I promised in my last post that I’d write about how to spend less time and money to launch a business. So here it is!
The Lean Startup
Have you heard of Lean Startup? If you work in the tech industry like me, you probably would have. If you haven’t, check out Eric Ries’ book.
Otherwise, here’s my short summary:
Always do the smallest thing possible to learn about your product and your customers.
This is called, creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
“What’s the least amount of work I can do to take my business to market?
How can I learn as quickly as possible about what customers think of my products?
What does my MVP look like?”
These are the questions that I constantly asked myself when I was getting ready to launch my new business – Weekend.
Before I go on, let me tell you a bit about Weekend…
What’s Weekend about?
In New Zealand, we only have a small number of fashion brands to choose from and we all wear the same stuff. I personally can’t walk down the street while wearing my Glassons cardigan without bumping into 5 other people wearing the exact same thing! Horrifying!
So, Weekend offers exclusive womenswear directly from Korea. Because Korea is becoming increasingly famous for its trendy fashion and high-quality products, I want New Zealanders to be able to access it too.
Weekend also stocks only a few numbers of each product, so customers are guaranteed rare styles.
How I launched my business quickly
Now that I’ve got my elevator pitch out of the way, here’s a summary of what I did to launch my business:
- Decided to sell my products at the local market (or “craft fair” as some would call it) once a month
- Selected two different product types that I think customers would love
- Created a free Gmail email address
- Asked my sister to design Weekend’s logo, banner signage, and email sign-up sheet
- Invested in an outdoor table, coat hangers, lamps, table decorations, basic packaging, and a cash box. (I already had a garment rack and mannequin from past business.)
- Spammed colleagues and posted on my personal Facebook to promote Weekend.
And that was it! Simple, right?
Well… It wasn’t actually that easy and it took hours of hard work. But I sure did aim for my MVP!
Less is more
More importantly, now let’s review a bunch of things that I didn’t do to launch Weekend (I have some of these now but didn’t when I went to market):
- Creating a website or buying a domain name
- Creating a Facebook page or any other social media accounts
- Creating business cards
- Investing in a business phone number
- Investing in an Eftpos machine (to accept card payments)
- Stocking too many product types
- Stocking anything that wasn’t made in Korea
- Buying a full-length mirror
- Buying a changing room
- Committing to weekly markets
- Investing in customised packaging or label tags
- And the list goes on!
Noticed how the number of things I didn’t do is a whole lot more than the things that I did do?
I could write a novel by analysing why I made each of the decisions above. But I’ll spare you the details today. There’s only one example that I want to break down to you.
You need less than you think
A lot of people around me expected me to have an Eftpos machine at my market stall to accept card payments. But I consciously decided not to invest in one.
I made an assumption that most customers at the market would have cash. Even if they didn’t have cash, they can get cash out from one of the other stalls at the market.
The Eftpos machine would cost me an extra $40 every time I went to sell at the market. My decision was to only start accepting card payments if I started losing sales of more than $40.
On my first market day, I lost $9 worth of sale because I didn’t accept card payments. I had saved $30 on that day, felt pleased with my smart decision, and patted myself on the back.
You need less than you think you need to start your business. I hope that was a good example to illustrate that.
What will you be cutting out in order to create your next MVP?
Comment below and let me know!